Tax

MYEFO: Tax clinics extended and $156 million for red-tape cuts

Matthew Elmas /

bushfire-hit SMEs

Scott Morrison. AAP/Bianca De Marchi.

The Morrison government will spend $4 million over four years creating free tax advice clinics across the country.

Announced in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook update (MYEFO) on Monday, the funds will be used build on the national tax clinic program, which was being trialled this year.

The government says those tests were a “success” and will now move forward with providing additional support to the scheme.

First unveiled last year, the national tax clinic program, administered in part by the tax office, provides small business taxpayers with access to free expert advice about their tax affairs and disputes.

The clinics are being run out of university campuses, including Australia National University in Canberra, UNSW and Sydney University in NSW, Griffith University in Queensland, and elsewhere.

While there has previously been criticism about the ATO’s role in the program, small business ombudsman Kate Carnell said small business uptake of the service has been good so far.

“While small businesses will still use the tailored and comprehensive advice of their accountant or bookkeeper, there are many Australian microbusinesses that would benefit from additional support in understanding their tax and superannuation obligations,” Carnell said in a statement circulated Monday.

Also unveiled in MYEFO papers on Monday was $156.2 million over four years on a deregulation agenda, including the creation of a single national business register and the introduction of director identification numbers.

The government unveiled legislation for those programs on the last sitting day of the year earlier this month.

An extra $10 million will also be spent on programs that will assist small business owners employing their first worker, including the development of a “consolidated online checklist” which will provide guidance about becoming an employer.

These programs were first announced in November, but the MYEFO update provides additional detail about how much the measures will cost taxpayers.

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany. You can contact him at [email protected].